The High Court has today dismissed an appeal by 34 movie and television copyright holders against Internet Service Provider iiNet, in a landmark case over internet piracy.
The Court ruled 5-0 in favour of iiNet.
The Court observed that iiNet had no direct technical power to prevent its customers from using the BitTorrent system to infringe copyright in the appellants’ films.
It also ruled that the information contained in AFACT notices did not provide iiNet with a reasonable basis for sending warning notices to terminate customers accounts.
Therefore it could not be inferred from iiNet’s inactivity that it had authorised any act of infringement.
The landmark decision follows a lengthy case which began in 2008 in which 34 studios, including Village Roadshow, Warner Bros, Universal, and the Seven Network represented by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft action against iiNet.
In 2010, the Federal Court’s Justice Dennis Cowdroy dismissed the case, ruling that “the mere provision of access to the internet is not an authorisation of infringement. In early 2011, AFACT appealed the judgment, but again lost before the full bench of the Federal Court when two of the three judges sided with iiNet. Today it has lost once more before the High Court.
But behind the scenes, the attorney-general’s department has been looking to find a solution to deal with copyright infringement and held a number of secret meetings between ISPs and copyright holders.
iiNet, which has offered a number of measures to address the concerns of copyright holders, will be holding a press conference at 1pm AEST today.
“Increasing the availability of licensed digital content is the best, most practical approach to meet consumer demand and protect copyright,” CEO Michael Malone said.
“We have consistently said we are eager to work with the studios to make their very desirable material legitimately available to a waiting customer base – and that offer remains the same today.”
The High Court dismissed the appeal with costs. iiNet says legal costs of the case to date are approximately $9 million and have already been expensed. A portion of costs will be recovered.
A full summary can be found here.